A band of prim, middle-aged English women, determined to raise money for cancer research, elect to pose nude for their fundraising calendar. Can extreme need bring on extreme personal transformation? Sweet and comic, this work is based on the 2003 Helen Mirren film (which, itself, was based on true events). Directed by the excellent Rachel Ditor. Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, to Feb. 26 ( ).
Last month, Leonard Cohen's new album, Old Ideas, delivered the first original recordings he's made since 2004. On it, the track Going Home seems a portrait of a great artist confronting his own, overwhelming persona. Apt, then, that Tracey Power has chosen this moment to release her study of Cohen's songbook. In Chelsea Hotel a haunted writer checks into the New York landmark and wades through love-scorched memories – all to the tune, naturally, of Cohen's music. (From Cohen's Going Home: "He wants to write a love song … a manual for living with defeat.") The dearly romantic – and barely discovered – singer-songwriter Adrian Glynn has the role of The Writer. Firehall Arts Centre, to March 3 ( ).
Disney's Beauty & The Beast
The Disney strategy is to take a raw, frightening fairy tale (in this case, there's imprisonment, forced marriage, slavery and murder) and turn it into something five-year-olds can sing along to. In Beauty and the Beast, daydreamer Belle must teach her captor, the Beast, some manners before a magical rose wilts and everyone is damned to an eternity of sorrow. Mega show-stopping numbers help things along (including Be Our Guest and the sway-inducing title song). Bonus: even more mega costumes and sets. Thirty-five million people have seen this sugary extravaganza. What's one more? Starring Dane Agostinis and Emily Behny in the title roles. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, to Feb. 12 ( ).
Playwright Lynn Nottage is officially a genius – she won the $500,000 MacArthur Genius prize in 2007. Find out why by taking in her most popular work, a love story about a black woman in 1905 New York who makes her way by becoming an accomplished seamstress. Starring Marci T. House as Esther (the seamstress), plus Anna Cummer and Jonathon Young. Granville Island Stage, Feb. 9 to March 10 ( ).
Problem Child & The End of Civilization
From the dark and twisted mind of one of Canada's most prolific playwrights, George F. Walker, came Suburban Motel – a six-part series that (in 1997) gave us a bleary yet brave portrayal of life on the rough side, all played out in a seedy motel room. Two of those vignettes make up the current production. In Problem Child, two young parents wait for a social worker's powerful verdict and, in The End of Civilization, a couple goes further than they thought possible to save themselves from financial ruin. The program features UBC's BFA acting students and is directed by MFA candidate Chris Robson. Telus Studio Theatre, UBC, Feb. 9 to 18 ( ).